There are stories all running around talking about how the current rains will not fix the drought. Which sounds asinine. But it isn't.
So a quick reminder in case it makes no freaking sense to you.
California's water comes from snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And the snowpack to date is anywhere from 125% to 200% of normal - for the season to this point. If the snowfall keeps up then the drought will be greatly reduced or ended.
But, California's current water system tries to move rainwater to the ocean as fast as possible to prevent flooding. So our reservoirs are mainly in the low part of the mountains. And, again, California depends on snow for water. So most of the reservoirs were built to slow down and then drain the rain water away to make way for the spring snow run off.
A minority of those reservoirs actually do hold water are empty right now, and the rain could help a lot. But most of them are not build to hold rain water. And they drain them to prevent flooding when the snow melts and they are designed to capture snow runoff.
We (Geographers and the Rand Institute at least) have know this since 1980 when I took classes on Ecosystems. Could this be changed? Yes. But we haven't done it yet. And we probably won't because the cost is enormous and people don't like to pay for things that are used int he future - instead of something they can point out to their voters in a two year cycle.